When considering the best way to take a message around the globe or take a message to the people, we have to consider mobile and how widespread mobile internet accessibility is globally. As mobile device adoption increases, we are seeing a great opportunity for ministries to reach people on their mobile devices. Here are some key statistics, there are currently 2 billion mobile devices being used in this year, 7x times the number of PCs. Additionally, 6 billion mobile devices are expected by 2016. The average person checks their phone 150x a day and 85% of the time spent on mobile devices is using an app. Texts are open 98% of the time and usually within 5 minutes of receiving and the average teenager/young adult sends over 3300 texts per month. Lastly, we are never more than 2 - 3 feet away from our mobile device, in other words, it’s alway within arms reach. With this type of device adoption, this shows how important mobile devices are in our lives. Thus, the question is how can Churches use the “mobile explosion” to their benefit? Well the answer is twofold, the first thing is that churches need to think mobile first when it comes to their digital strategies. When digital content is created for the ministry (social media, multimedia, web, online video, etc..) it needs to be understood that it will be consumed via a mobile device rather than a desktop. Secondly, the mobile experience needs to be easy, fast (as in fast loading) and productive (easy navigation and providing useful content).
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk strategies. There are three main areas that churches can focus on when looking to reach people via mobile, they are:
Mobile Website - How your website looks on a mobile device is very important because numerous people will be checking it out while on the go. More specifically, if someone is looking for your location or service times, while on their way to your church, they will need the website to provide that information quickly and effectively. A good way to resolve this issue is to make sure your regular (desktop) website is responsive. Responsive design is a programming technique that makes websites adapt to the device they are being viewed on, whether it’s a desktop, laptop or mobile device, the viewer has a great online experience and the information is fast, easy and useful.
Mobile Apps - Apps are the highlight of our mobile devices and on average we have at least 40 apps on our phones. From the bible app to follow along in scriptures to social media apps where we share our pastors words of encouragement, apps are the most interactive aspect of our mobile experience. Creating an app for your church has become something that any size ministry can accomplish with the help of great companies such as Roarapp.com and Churchapp.com. They normally charge an upfront fee (around $500) and a nominal monthly fee (around $50) to help you create an app for Apple iOS and Google Android devices. A good layout for an app is to have the same information that is available on your mobile site. When given a choice, the average user will open an app then use a mobile website 70% of the time.
SMS-Texting - When ministries are developing their mobile strategies, they initially think about a mobile apps or websites, unfortunately they very seldom consider the impact of texting. Yes, mobile websites and apps get the most media and are the hot button topics but when it comes down to getting results, texting is the best start to an effective mobile strategy. Text to give during natural disasters is what brought texting as a communication tool to the forefront for nonprofits and large organizations, therefore the church should utilize this revenue generating opportunity as well. Texting has the highest read percentage as well as the highest response percentage of any mobile communications. The main drawback of texting as a communication tool is the high opt-out rate it has because people don’t want to be spammed via texting so take heed to not abuse your texting strategy.
Finally, here is a parting thought to consider, when creating content for your church’s mobile strategy, video content is highly engaging and useful. Video sermons on YouTube, Vimeo and Apple Podcasts are consumed by the hundreds of thousands on mobile devices (this includes live streaming services). Also, Social Media is a great driver of the mobile movement and one of the main uses via mobile devices. Facebook is the number one app downloaded on all devices and 60% of all social media content is consumed from mobile devices. It’s time we look at the benefits of mobile and take the ministry to the people.